Retired Catholic Bishop Joseph Maguire dies at 95


SPRINGFIELD >> A former Western Massachusetts Catholic bishop, popular with parishioners who served at the height of the priest sex abuse scandal, died Sunday evening. Most Rev. Joseph Francis Maguire passed away at his Springfield residence around 6 p.m., according to Mark Dupont, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield. About 90 minutes later, the diocese's current bishop, Most Rev. Mitchell Rozanski announced Maguire's death during a press conference.

The cause of death isn't known and funeral arrangements will be made over the next few days, with a service of remembrance likely to be held next Sunday in St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield.

Since replacing retired bishop, Most Rev. Timothy McDonnell in August, Rozanski visited Maguire daily.

"Each evening I would speak with the Bishop Maguire, give him communion and he would share his experiences in the diocese with me," he said in a phone interview with The Eagle.

Ordained a priest in 1945, Maguire, a Roxbury native, served as bishop for Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties from October 1977 to February of 1992.

Popular with parishioners across the diocese, his role in handling priests accused of child molestation came to light after his retirement nearly 23 years ago.

In July, 2012, Maguire and another retired Springfield bishop, Most Rev. Thomas Dupre, reached a $500,000 settlement with a Williamstown man who claimed they failed to stop a known pedophile priest who molested him.

Andrew Nicastro alleged in his lawsuit that Alfred Graves, then a priest, molested him in the early 1980s and that then-Bishop Joseph Maguire and his subordinate, Thomas Dupre, knew Graves had abused other boys in 1976.

Graves, who has been named an abuser in other civil actions, was barred from presenting himself as a priest in the 1990s and defrocked by the Vatican in 2006.

Following the settlement, Maguire did issue an apology for not handling the situation better and was "truly sorry" for Nicastro's suffering.

While Maguire never spoke directly of the case with Rozanski, the issue of abusive priests weighed on the late bishop.

"As a dedicated priest he was, he was baffled of how something like that could happen," Rozanski said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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